There are a great many weird sports in this world, and rightly so. Weird sports, much like any of the more mainstream cousins, are all defined by the same base logic. A sport is defined as an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature. Within that, the term “athletic” is malleable and open to interpretation. However, with that definition and the simple fact that there are 8 billion people in the world, spread over 195 countries and several thousand cultures, it is not surprising that there are so many weird sports being practiced.
Whether you are interested in the weirdest sports that have ever been conceived or seek entertainment with funny sports, we have you covered with this list. There is no shortage of obscure sports to choose from, but our list below contains everything from the weird to the wonderful, through to crazy sports that only the most foolhardy would ever compete in.
5 Weirdest sports ever played
To be one of the weirdest sports, an event needs to be exceptionally unusual. To be able to stand out from the other weird sports and deserving of special attention. Happily, the following are relatively unknown sports to all but those who practice them.
Below are the five weirdest sports ever played.
Toe wrestling is a classic yet still deserving of its classification as one of the weirdest sports. Competitive toe wrestling contests run similarly to arm wrestling. Combatants compete with bare feet, interlock their toes, and fight to push their opponent’s foot flat to the floor. Every year the toe wrestling world championships are held in Welton, England. There are classifications for men, women, and youths.
Interestingly, toe wrestling was created by four men after a night of drinking in a pub called Ye Olde Royal Oak Inn in Welton. This pub hosted then hosted the annual world championships from 1994 until 2021.
Shovel racing was destined to become one of the weirdest sports of all time. Take the concept of sledding but replace the sled with a shovel. Like many weird sports, shovel racing came from oddly practical beginnings. Ski resort workers discovered that riding their shovels allowed them to move quickly from point to point.
In 1997 shovel racing was even featured in the winter X games. However, due to safety concerns, it did not make any more appearances. Often, competitors will wax the underside of their shovels to maximize their speed. At top speed, shovel racing competitors can reach upwards of 70 miles an hour.
Wife-carrying is a worthy addition to a list of the weirdest sports. While it is not necessarily a serious sport, those that partake take the race itself very seriously. An annual wife-carrying championship is held in Finland, where this weird sport originated. The objective of the race is for the man to carry his wife over his shoulders along a 250m track. Wife-carrying also requires the competitors to tackle two dry obstacles and one wet obstacle. It is a simple case of the fastest time wins. Prizes are also awarded for costumes and the entertainment factor.
The history of wife-carrying also helps it earn the status as one of the weirdest sports because it is rumored it stemmed from a gang of thieves who would kidnap women from villages. Interestingly, the prize for the best wife-carrying team is the wife’s body weight in beer.
Extreme ironing is easily one of the weirdest sports in the world. Practitioners of extreme ironing take their ironing boards to remote locations and iron clothes. While it is classed as a sport due to its athletic nature, extreme ironing is more of an exhibition than a competitive sport. Ironers document and share their adventures with others for the sheer fun of it.
Extreme ironing began its journey to being one of the weirdest sports back in 1997 after an Englishman came home from a long day at work and wanted to relax but also needed to do the ironing. He combined the two by climbing a mountain with his ironing board in tow.
Fireball soccer is deserving of its place on a list of the weirdest games ever played because it is so bizarre it almost defies belief. The game of Fireball soccer is exactly as many would expect. A coconut is soaked in kerosene and then set alight. The game then starts with standard soccer rules. Whoever scores the most goals wins.
There are various reports of the origins of fireball soccer, with many saying it began as part of a spiritual practice combined with an exercise in bonding and team building. Either way, fireball remains on of the weirdest sports ever conceived.
6 Obscure sports for those who enjoy something different
Obscure sports are those that make you scratch your head and wonder what the person inventing it was thinking. Most obscure sports must have been conceived by those creative types who see something weird and think there’s a sport to be made there.
Below are six obscure sports to leave you confused and amazed.
Underwater hockey, by name alone, is deserving of a place among the world’s most obscure sports. As the name suggests, underwater hockey is played by two teams aiming to pass a weighted puck and score goals, all while underwater.
Goals are scored when the puck is pushed up a gentle slope and into the trough beyond the goal line. What cements underwater hocket as one of the more obscure sports is the fact that taking place underwater restricts the spectator element of the sport. Underwater hockey is played in over thirty countries and boasts a bi-annual world championship and also a European championship.
Sporthocking is one of the more modern but highly obscure sports to originate from the coattails of parkour. Created in Germany back in 2007, sporthocking competitors must perform a series of acrobatic tricks and stunts while retaining possession of a specially shaped bar stool.
In sporthocking, tricks are performed in succession, with the move being over when the competitor slams the stool on the floor and takes a seat. Even if you fall or fail in a trick, you must sit back on the stool to end your ‘run.’
Sepak Takraw is one of the obscure sports that make an odd amount of sense. Also known as foot volleyball, the obscure sport of Sepak Takraw is exactly that: an acrobatic sport that looks like a combination of marital arts and volleyball.
Sepak Takraw originated in Asia, and the name is an amalgamation of Malay and Thai words. The game is played between teams of 2, 3, or 4 players. Competitors can use any body part except their arms or hands to touch the ball. As with many obscure sports, there is a niche interest in the game. However, it is growing as more people learn about it. Currently, there are three major competitions held annually. The ISTAF SuperSeries, the ISTAF World Cup, and the King’s Cup World Championships
Gurning is one of many obscure sports originating in the United Kingdom. The competition is the simplest of all obscure sports. Contestants take turns in pulling the strangest or weirdest-looking face they can. The winner is the person who makes the most weirdly obscure face possible.
Interestingly, the people who see the most success in gurning are those who are missing teeth. Traditionally, gurning is found in rural towns around Britain. For extra obscurity, a contestant will often have to put their head between a horse collar when competing.
The caber toss is another one of those obscure sports that is a test of strength as much as it is of skill. The aim of the game is to toss a 6-meter-long trunk of a birch tree so that it turns end over end. The caber weighs up to 150-pounds, and the winner is the person who can perform the most consecutive tosses within a given time limit.
As with many obscure sports, the caber toss originated from humble beginnings. First noted in the highlands of Scotland, it is believed to stem from when lumberjacks needed to move their logs over small cracks and crevices in order to bring them home.
Goanna pulling rounds off our list of obscure sports; however, it is no less weird than any of the others. Originating from Australia, the obscure event of goanna pulling is very similar to a tug of war. Only competitors pull in one-on-one competition using their necks. This obscure sport got its name due to the competitors’ position looking much like the stance of the namesake lizard.
Strong neck muscles are needed for successful goanna pulling; however, as with my obscure sports, a surprising element of skill and strategy is needed to achieve the greatest success. The annual Australian National Goanna Pulling Championships have taken place in the town of Wooli ever since their inception in 1984. Winners are awarded Goanna Pulling Championship Belts along with cash prizes.
5 Funny sports guaranteed to make you smile
Some funny sports just make you giggle. Sure, they may be fiercely contested, but there is an increased entertainment factor with them. Other funny sports are funny for the simple fact that they are so weird you can help but be amused by their existence. Some weird sports are funnier than others, but we think you will agree these are the funniest sports around.
Below are five funny sports that will amuse even the most sport-averse character.
Ostrich racing tops the list of funny sports. Not only does it sound crazy, but it looks hilarious to the spectator too. The contest dates back to around 1890 in Florida. However, it is believed that the practice existed in South Africa long before this.
In the sport, competitors mount their ostrich and try to hold on as they run down a track. Racing birds can reach speeds of 43 miles an hour. It is not uncommon for rides to fall from their mounts and for the bird to continue running without them.
Cycle-ball is truly one of the funny sports of the modern day. Imagine football but played on bicycles. The game is contested by two teams of two players. Players must control the ball using their bike or their head. Hands can only be used when defending the goal.
Cycle-ball entered the funny sports world back in 1893, with the annual Cycle-ball World Championships held annually as of 1929. The most successful Cycle-ball team was the Pospíšil brothers, Czech brothers who won twenty world championships in twenty-three years between 1965 and 1988.
Bossaball is one of those funny sports that looks every bit as fun to play as it is to watch. An inflatable volleyball court with a raised net and a trampoline on either side. This allows the sole attacker on each five-man team to spike the ball down to their opponents. The game incorporates elements of football and volleyball with a healthy dose of acrobatics.
Bossaball also comes with its own rule set that further defines this as one of the world’s funny sports. Players only have five passes before the ball needs to go over the net, and no more than the first two can be volleyball-style touches. Beyond the first two touches, there are no further limits imposed.
Teams compete in both a Bossaball World Cup and a European Championship.
Poohsticks is one of those funny sports that has its background in children’s fiction. Created by none other than Winnie the Pooh. Poohsticks is a very simple game, but one that still draws quite a crowd for its annual World Poohsticks Championships held on the River Thames.
Poohsticks sees competitors choose a stick and throw it into the river via the upstream side of a bridge, and the winner is the one whose stick emerges first on the other side of the bridge. When playing a game of Poohsticks, it is important that the sticks are dropped and not thrown into the water. Care should be taken to make sure the drop height is uniform across the competitors.
Oil wrestling rounds off our list of funny sports, and despite being a highly athletic competition, it remains oddly humorous. Two competitors slather themselves in olive oil and wrestle in a grappling manner similar to the more traditional Greco-Roman standards.
The history of funny sports such as oil wrestling date back almost five thousand years. Competitors are separated into two divisions, Pehlivan (wrestlers) and Baspehlivan (master wrestlers). Victory can be achieved in a number of ways, including getting your opponent’s back to touch the floor or carrying your opponent for three continuous steps.
6 Weird professional sports that are too good to be true
The existence of weird professional sports deserves special mention. Whenever a sport ‘goes pro,’ it means that not only is there an intense appeal, but also commercial opportunities and money to be made. Weird Professional sports are both abstract yet somehow commercialized enough to be profitable. You might not be seeing the below weird sports in the Olympics any time soon, but they all have a professional association, so who knows?
Below are six weird professional sports that will astound you.
Tug of War
Tug of war is the king of weird professional sports. The ultimate test of brawn, it also requires a significate degree of tactics and team rhythm in order to be successful. The Tug of War International Federation has fifty-three member countries and was even part of the Olympic games between 1900 and 1920.
Tug of war is a simple premise. The objective is to pull the other team a distance of four meters or as far as possible within the allotted timeframe. Teams have a total weight limit that is shared amongst eight team members.
Arm wrestling is one of the weird professional sports that deserves a larger following than it has. An arm wrestling contest is just as simple as it sounds. Two men face off against each other in a contest to push the competitor’s hand to the table. There are a variety of moves and techniques that can be used in order to achieve victory.
In professional arm wrestling, the competitors compete standing, with tables consisting of elbow positioning pads and handles that must be held by the non-wrestling hand. The World Arm Wrestling Federation has members from over eighty different countries.
Croquet is the summer sport of the social elite in the United Kingdom. Played on well-manicured lawns, croquet is enjoyed with Pims or a nice gin and tonic. However, Croquet is also one of the weird professional sports that is played across the globe. Association croquet is slightly different from the standard garden version of the sport.
Two players compete using four different colored balls. The aim is to pass all balls through the croquet hoops. There are three hoops at either end of the pitch and a stake in the center. There are two core short types. The Croquet shot, where one ball is hit into another in order to advance it. Performing the croquet allows the player to take an additional shot. Victory comes after both balls have passed through all six hoops and back again, with the final shot needing to hit the center stake.
Kabaddi is one of those weird professional sports that you’ve probably never heard of if you live outside of the Indian subcontinent. The sport is essentially a form of extreme tag. Teams line up on either side of a pitch. One player from each side then takes turns ‘raiding’ the opposite team. The goal is to tag as many people as they can before they are tackled.
However, what truly cements Kabaddi as one of the weird professional sports is that the attacking player must perform their attack within 30 seconds while screaming Kabaddi as loud as they can in a single breath.
Professional face slapping seems like the setup of a joke. However, it is very true and one of the genuinely weird professional sports. Two competitors stand face-to-face, much like in a traditional arm-wrestling contest. Competitors then take turns slapping each other in the face as hard as they can.
Contents consist of 5 rounds, and points are awarded for technique, precision, and for the impression left on their opponent’s face. An instant win is achieved if an opponent moves their head, steps away from the table, or attempts to cover their face.
Dressage is not only one of the weird professional sports, but it is one that has become a mainstay at the Olympics and has even had royal representation. There is no denying the level of skill involved in dressage. It is more the concept and the spectator experience that ups the weirdness factor.
Dressage is often described as horse dancing. However, it is much more complicated and complex than that. It is, in all seriousness, a demonstration of supreme control and a deep connection between horse and rider. However, that doesn’t stop it from belonging to the list of weird professional sports.
5 Random sports that defy belief
Random sports are those weird entries on the list that seem so obscure they should not really exist as a sport. Random sports somehow manage to attract a following and have those that not only participate but also spectate. Each to their own, and there should be no gatekeeping when it comes to sports, but regardless, some weird sports are exceptionally random.
Below are five random sports that shouldn’t work but somehow do.
Chess boxing should lead any list of random sports, because it’s an amalgamation of two contrasting sports that do not belong together. Chess boxing began as a piece of performance art but soon grew into a professional sport with two governing bodies and a number of championships.
The random sport that is chess boxing sees contestants compete over 11 rounds of boxing and chess. Three minutes of boxing is followed by one minute of chess. There are multiple ways to win, including either by knockout in the ring or checkmate on the board.
Ferret legging is one of the most random sports to come out of the United Kingdom. A ferret legging contest is a test of endurance and determination. It is, as the name suggests, a contest where a man’s trouser legs are sealed around the feet, and two live ferrets are then placed inside said trousers.
The winner is the person who can withstand the furrowing of the ferrets for the longest. The current record for ferret legging stands at 5 hours and 30 minutes.
Cheese rolling is another one of the fantastic random sports to come out of the United Kingdom. Once again, cheese rolling is a wonderfully random game whereupon a large group of contestants races against a speeding wheel of cheese down the side of a mountain.
Cheese rolling is an annual event in the UK that has established quite a following. The entire purpose of the race is to catch the cheese. The first person to do so was allowed to keep the cheese as a prize. Even as far as random sports go, winning a piece of cheese surely takes the biscuit.
Dog surfing is one of those random sports that many may laugh at when first hearing about it. However, it is a very real and very competitive sport. Specially trained dogs take to the water and ride waves, being judged on their skill and confidence with the board.
There are several dog surfing competitions and even a dog surfing world championship. Some of the categories even include tandem surfing, where two (or more) dogs ride the same board. We’re not sure how random sports such as this sit with PETA, but the contests always seem to draw a decent crowd.
Unicycle polo is the last in our list of random sports. Also called unicycle hockey, it is a game that sees two teams of five play hockey while riding unicycles. The game is similar to ice hockey. The goals are set proud from either end, allowing players to move behind the net. Skating position ice hockey sticks are used to hit a tennis ball.
Unicycler hockey is a no-contact sport often played by mixed-gender teams. The decision to create a fast-paced sport on unicycles is commendable but certainly makes the game one of the most random sports around.
5 Crazy sports you wouldn’t want to try
There are crazy sports which certainly command your attention, but at the same time, most of them come with a high risk of injury. At the very least, these crazy sports should only be attended or, in some cases, watched once sufficient briefings and safety information have been made available.
Below are five crazy sports perfect for the foolhardy.
Quidditch is a crazy sport created in a work of fiction. The wizarding crazy sport of Quidditch is now very much real, with roleplaying competitors straddling brooms as they charge around a pitch in a game that seems to be a combination of cosplay, rugby, handball, water polo, and dodgeball.
If it isn’t enough that crazy sports like Quidditch exist, there is even a tier of professional leagues in the United Kingdom, numerous continental and international competitions, and an annual quidditch world cup.
Australian Rules Football
You won’t find many crazy sports weirder than Australian rules football. It is a game that must be seen to be believed. The crazy game of Australian rules football is played (as the name suggests) in Australia and consists of 18-player teams competing on a large oval pitch. A full-contact sport, Australian rules football is not for the mild-mannered.
Matches run for four twenty-minute quarters, and the scoring system is just as crazy as the sport. Each end has four goalposts. Goals are worth six points, counted when the ball passes between the center posts. One point is awarded for a ‘behind,’ which is the ball basses between one of the inner goal posts and outer behind posts.
Bird Song Contests
Bird song contests might be one of the craziest sports ever invented. Not because it is dangerous or exhilarating but because they are so crazy they almost defy description. The name is no misnomer; this king of crazy sports is literally a competition to see which of two birds tweets the most within a certain period of time.
Typically, gold finches are used. Interestingly enough, there have been doping scandals rocking the bird song world, with accusations of testosterone use in birds rife in recent years.
Shin kicking takes the notion of crazy sports and cranks it up to eleven. Originating in Wales, the contest is just as simple and as painful as the name suggests. Two competitors stand face-to-face, holding each other by the collar. They then proceed to kick each other on the shin. Victory comes when one combatant either falls to the floor or cries out ‘sufficient.’
It may seem that some crazy sports originate after one too many on a Friday night, but the art of shin-kicking was touted as a martial art in Britain at one point in time. It was also a steeple of the Cotswold Olympick games, which were held annually in the UK until the 1850s.
Limbo skating is one of those crazy sports that shouldn’t exist, but the fact that it does makes sense. The crazy sport of limbo skating is exactly as it sounds, a combination of limbo and skating, with people attempting to limbo under different obstacles while moving at speed on rollerskates.
Interestingly, in 2021 a 7-year-old set a limbo skating record, speeding under 20 cars in 13.74 seconds.
Why do some of these unusual sports even qualify as sports?
Some of these unusual sports quality as sports simply because they meet the very base definition of a sport. They have a following and enough people interested in them to be played and spectated. Granted, some unusual sports take things more seriously than others. Several, in fact, know they are unusual sports and rely on their novelty to survive. They don’t take themselves too seriously, even when in competition mode. This isn’t always the case, of course, as evidenced by the numerous weird Olympic sports that have cropped up throughout history.
Why are some sports more popular than others?
Some sports are more popular than others for three key reasons. Firstly, there is the coolness component. A sport that manages to attract the attention of popular names and faces is going to get a large boost in its appeal. Celebrity and influencer interest in sports makes something cool overnight. Secondly, the accessibility of the sport plays a large factor. Games like soccer have widespread accessibility, and as such, it is one of the most popular sports on the planet. Other games, such as those requiring specialist equipment or facilities, have reduced accessibility, and so, while they may be incredibly fun games to play, their popularity ceiling is that much lower. Finally, the marketability of the sport directly influences its popularity. A sport that is hard to market or has niche appeal is limited in what it can achieve. Whereas sports that are easy to market to a mass audience will automatically stand a great chance at becoming more popular, if not because there are more eyes on the product, but because the draw of getting involved has more lucrative potential for those that excel in it.